How to check your credit record

If you’re curious about your credit score, or worried about arrears affecting future borrowing, checking your credit report is easy. Here’s how to check your credit history, your credit check rights, & what your credit score means.

Why should you check your credit report?

It’s good to review your credit history on a regular basis and always before you apply for credit. You’ll be credit checked if you’re planning to:

Lenders check your credit record to decide whether they will lend to you, and how much your borrowing will cost.

They also use it to check your name and address details are accurate, so make sure these are correct and up to date.

You can check your credit record for free on the Central Credit Register website.

Even if you think your credit record is good, you may discover things on your report you didn’t know about. It can flag up things like:

  • Arrears on an old loan you’d forgotten about e.g. a student loan
  • A loan still showing as outstanding, that’s actually been cleared
  • Loan arrears that have long been paid off
  • Credit that you didn’t apply for - you may be a victim of impersonation

It can also remind you of when you last had arrears and how long you’ve been free of them. This can be useful when choosing a lender, because some have stricter lending criteria than others.

Your credit check rights

If you do find something on your report that you disagree with or you think is incorrect, you have the right to:

  • Add a statement of up to 200 words
  • Apply for the information to be amended
  • Report suspected impersonation

You should report any errors to the lender, not the credit agency, because it’s the lender that must request for the information to be changed.

What is bad credit?

It’s when you struggle to keep up to date with all your financial commitments, and this is recorded on your credit record.

This can include missed or late payments for:

  • Loans
  • Credit cards
  • Mortgages
  • Hire purchase agreements e.g. when you buy furniture
  • Personal contract purchases e.g. when you buy a car

Bad credit is often caused by not having enough income to cover your outgoings each month, so you fall behind on payments.

Making late payments, or missing payments sends you into arrears which are hard to get out of. This can spiral into a long history of poor credit that makes borrowing very difficult.

What is a credit score?

Lenders may use a credit score or rating to assess your application for a product and to help them decide whether you’re creditworthy.

Individual lenders use their own rating system based on the information you’ve provided as part of your application and your credit history.

Your credit record based on your history will hold information like whether:

  • you’ve kept your credit payments up to date
  • how often you make late payments
  • you are in arrears or have been in the past

Until recently the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB) also offered a credit score based on a person’s financial profile.

However, the ICB recently ceased its credit reference service and lenders now use reports from the Central Credit Register (CCR) and tend to use their own internal scoring system instead.

What does your credit rating mean?

Typically, if you have a high credit score or rating, you’re considered to be less risky by potential lenders. This can be for a variety of reasons, e.g. if you’re more likely to make all your repayments on time.

Lenders may use a score in part, to help them decide:

  • Whether they will lend to you
  • How much they will lend you
  • What interest rate they can offer you

Having a high credit score isn’t a guarantee that a lender will lend to you, and having a low score doesn’t always mean you won’t be able to borrow any credit.

How to improve your credit rating

There are many ways you can boost your credit score, including:

  • Checking your credit report regularly: to ensure it has no mistakes and is showing any new payments you’ve made.
  • Reporting any errors to your lender: so your report can be updated. You can also add a statement to your record, for example, to explain why an account is in arrears.
  • Clearing any arrears: and then making all future payments in full and on time.
  • Reducing your outstanding credit: before applying for more, so that you meet lenders’ affordability checks.
  • Waiting to apply for credit: from when your arrears have been cleared, to reduce your chances of being declined by lenders.
  • Minimising credit checks by lenders: by researching what their lending criteria is. Too many checks may negatively affect your credit rating.

Credit record FAQs

How long will information about my loans stay on my credit report for?

Details will be kept about your credit agreements for five years from when they’ve been paid off.

For example, if you have a personal loan that runs for three years, lenders will be able to see information about its history for a further five years, until it’s wiped from your record.

If I request my credit report, can it affect my credit rating?

No, you can request as many checks as you need and it won’t affect your credit score or rating.

Too many credit checks made by lenders when you apply for credit may affect your credit score, because it can be a sign that you’re having difficulty getting credit.

What happens if I find a mistake on my credit report?

If you find a mistake, you should contact the lender it relates to and ask them to correct the information they submitted to the credit agency.

The credit agency can’t change the information unless the lender advises them to.

What is the Central Credit Register?

It’s operated and owned by the Central Bank of Ireland, and has been storing information about loans of €500 and over, since 2017.

Lenders must register details of loans with the Central Credit Register by law.

It’s also a requirement that lenders check your credit report using this database for any loans of €2,000 or more - and they don’t need your consent to do this.

Here’s more about how it works and exactly what’s included on the central credit register.

What has happened to the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB)?

The ICB was owned by its members, such as banks, card issuers, mortgage providers and local authorities. It was formed to help speed up the process of getting credit, reduce the cost of credit, and help prevent fraud.

ICB’s credit records are no longer available for credit referencing purposes. Lenders will now use reports from the Central Credit Register (CCR), operated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

ICB will delete all its records other than those required to respond to subject access requests received. This deletion is planned from 1 November 2021. It will respond to all subject access requests received up to 31st October 2021.

You can now obtain your credit report from the Central Credit Register.

Will my credit score stay the same?

No. Individual lenders will have different rating systems and your score is only a snapshot of your credit status at a particular time.

It is possible to maintain a good score though by always paying on time and in full. It’s also possible to turn a bad score into a good score, and vice versa.

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